Monday, April 23

Posted by Laurel Garver on Monday, April 23, 2012 10 comments
Faith Elizabeth Hough tagged me for the "Lucky Seven" meme, in which I post seven paragraphs from page 77 of one of my manuscripts. I hope you'll pardon the fact this is actually from page 72 of my contemporary YA Never Gone, but I didn't want to abandon entirely my National Poetry Month theme. This excerpt is a good example of how poetic techniques can be useful in fiction for making character's introspective moments sing.

Sound patterns are something that come fairly naturally to me, though I do rework passages and tinker with word choice in late revision when a section feels like it needs some extra oomph.  I like the subtlety of assonance especially [repeated vowel sounds]. For example, see the "ow" sound in this line: "Fields once shining gold with canola flowers are now brown patches of plow marks and stubble." For more on using poetic sound patterns, see my post, "Poet Secrets."


The train plunges through a series of tunnels. My ears clog and unclog from the changes in pressure. For ten minutes we hurtle past suburbs with rows of prim brick houses and tidy gardens peppered with toys. No anguish or ugly arguments here in the land of normal.

Suburbs abruptly end and countryside begins. The sky is wet and asphalt gray—not the England I’ve known, its azure sky hung with marshmallow clouds. January England is nothing like July. Gone are the sheep sunning themselves and nibbling grass. Fields once shining gold with canola flowers are now brown patches of plow marks and stubble. No growth. No life.

What I wouldn’t give to hold Dad’s warm hand again, to clutch his arm and let him steer me where I need to go. If only I could feel him again. I’d be safe. The dark emptiness couldn’t swallow me.

How could I forget? Grandma might have the ashes, but I have the shirt.

I open my backpack and quietly dig till I find a firm pillow of plastic. With one hand, I work open the zip top. The soft cotton sends tingles up my arm. I lean back, close my eyes and sink into the sensation: his collar soft in my small hands as I rode on his shoulders. Down sun-dappled sidewalks we trotted toward home. He dipped and lurched to duck under branches, and I laughed, grabbed great fistfuls of shirt, fingers fighting to root myself there.

FFWUMP! Wind shear from a passing train explodes outside my window. I lurch in my seat. Grandpa reads on, like he didn’t even notice the noise. Other passengers type on laptops, read, even sleep. Am I the only one who heard it?

My gosh, is this what Grandpa meant when he said bad things would happen when I “grasp after what belongs to God”? I’ll get these terrible jolts, slowly come unhinged?


Here are the rules:

1. Go to page seventy-seven of your manuscript.[bent that one a bit, feel free to do likewise]
2. Go down seven lines.
3. Post the next seven lines, sentences, or paragraphs on your blog for all to enjoy/laugh at/whatever.
4. Tag seven new writers.

And here are my invitees:
1. Anne Gallagher of Piedmont Writer
2. Emma Lauren of The Writer's Funhouse
3. Heidi Willis of Some Mad Hope
4. Connie Keller at A Merry Heart
5. Margo Berendsen at Writing at High Altitude
6. Jemi Fraser at Just Jemi
7. Tyrean Martinson at Tyrean's Writing Spot

Do you borrow skills from other kinds of writing (poetry, drama, nonfiction, journalism) to improve your fiction?


  1. Thanks for the tag! :)

    Love your selection - lots of sensory imagery and a powerful scene!

    1. I can't remember if you're a joiner on these kind of memes, but I hope you'll consider doing it. I've been enjoying your series in the A-Z!

  2. Thanks for the tag!

    I loved reading your excerpt.

    1. You're welcome. And thanks for your kind words.

  3. I never knew what that technique was called but I do the same thing. Matching sopunds in a sentence. I also do the alliterative thing too from time to time.

    Thanks for the tag, I'll do it on Friday.

    1. I suppose we are both aural thinkers. Do you also have a lot of dialogue scenes? I think it's part of the sound-attentive mind too.

  4. that word was supposed to be sounds, not sopunds. I wonder what a sopund is.

    1. Based on what little etymology knowledge I have, I would say sopund is an adjective having to do with sleepiness, based on the word soporific [causing sleep].

      My sopund dog snores on his pillow for 20 hours a day.

      Whaddya think? :-)

  5. Beautifully written piece! I love the rootedness of her memory of her fingers entwined in his shirt as he carries her.

    Thanks for the invite!!! I'll probably post mine next week - hope that's ok.

    1. Thanks, Tyrean. Glad you enjoyed it. Post your snippet whenever it's convenient--I'm glad you're willing to give this meme a whirl.